Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Letters to China

Today I am sending out a New Year card to the care-givers of FengHong and BingHui. We've already sent two letters (and a care package) to BingHui, and one to FengHong. It's always a risk sending things because we have no way of knowing if they arrive safely. There are services that will send a care package for us, assembling the package and guaranteeing delivery, but they are quite expensive. For instance, for the service to translate a letter and send a photo they charge $58.00. We are fortunate that we have Cheng here to translate for us. We are able to send photos and a letter for less than $1.00. The package we mailed previously, which contained a disposable camera, jeans and a blanket, cost $54 to mail to China. If I have the service put together that type of package for me in China it would cost over $200.00. Yikes! Today I am just mailing another letter with a recent photo. I also included our email address in the hopes that the foster mother or nannies might contact us directly. It would be nice to establish more of a relationship with our sons' care-givers. They could give us more input on their likes and dislikes and fears. We haven't even received any recent photos of BingHui. He probably changed a ton in the last year, and I hope we can recognize him. We did receive recent photos of FengHong at least. As we wait, we look at the photos all the time, bonding with our sons more everyday.

Monday, December 21, 2009


David and I have spent hours and hours and hours discussing what to do about the boys' names. First, we thought we would just keep their Chinese names. After all, it's a big part of their identity and heritage. But then we also want them to feel comfortable, and an American name might be easier for them in the long-run. It's not fun always having to correct people or have people stumble over your name constantly. In addition, having a new American name might be a nice transition, a way to signify that these children are our sons now. We even sent a letter to FengHong to ask him how he felt about having an American name. Then we sent an email to a man who has adopted eight times from China, and we asked him what he does about the children's names. He said that they do always give their adopted children a new name, but the middle name is their Chinese name. All the way to New York City, David and I hashed out various names. A month ago, we went out for our date night and brought a name-list with us. We quickly settled on Benjamin (Ben) for BingHui. It's close enough to his Chinese name that we thought it would be easy for him to adjust to the new name. However, even after we got the whole restaurant involved in the discussion, we couldn't come up with a decent American "F" name for FengHong. Frank was the only name we both could tolerate, but then we'd have Benjamin and Franklin. That is just too cutesy for us, naming our boys after one of our famous Presidents. Last night, Cheng (our exchange student) suggested we find a name that starts with a J, which sounds close to Jiang, FengHong's last name. Currently, David and I like the name Jackson (Jack). We can only hope that the boys LIKE their names, after we spent so much time trying to decide on the names. Sometimes children in China have already selected an English name for their English language class. If this is the case, then we might have to just go with their pre-selected name. In the meantime, we need to start getting used to calling them Ben and Jack, I guess. If we don't get used to their names ourselves, it will be difficult to feel natural about the name choices later. So, what's in a name? In this case, a whole lot of time, thought, and effort!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Mumbo Jumbo

Today I asked for clarification of exactly how long we would need to be in Beijing. I received the following instructions:
In Beijing, families usually take temporary custody at the orphanage on Sunday, complete the adoption processing at the Civil Affairs Office on Monday, and apply for the child's passport the same day. Sometimes the passport will not be ready until the following Monday, but the family will need to fly to Guangzhou on Friday in order to have the child's visa medical on Saturday (assuming that the family has a visa appointment on a Tuesday).
If this would be the case for your family, your guide in Beijing will express mail the passports to your guide in Guangzhou and she would receive it in time for the visa interview. If your family requests and the consulate confirms a visa appointment on a Tuesday, there should be enough time to receive both children's passports before the interview. The visa process takes 3 days now, so the earliest we advice families to depart Guangzhou is 3 days after the visa appointment, which would be Friday for your family (if the visa appointment is on a Tuesday). Following this travel plan, the trip would last around 2 weeks.

Yeah, now you know how very complicated this entire process is, and why we can't follow what is going on 1/2 the time. I did figure out that we should plan to arrive in China on a Saturday and leave on a Friday. That's good to know.

Travel Notice for BingHui

We did it! We finally received our travel notice for BingHui!! Theoretically, we could travel any time now; however, we are still waiting for the I-800 approval, article 5 letter and travel notice for FengHong. They will be rushing these things though (we hope) because our travel notice for BingHui expires March 10th. I've been looking at flights, and things look good for Jan. or Feb. My fingers are crossed that FengHong's paperwork is swift. We feel like we've been waiting for a long time now.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Article 5

We just received news that CCAA was sent the article 5 letter for BingHui!! Whoo hoo. We should receive the invitation to travel very, very soon. But, of course, we have to wait for the I-800 and article 5 for FengHong too, and that could be a couple more months. At least we know we're not forgotten.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Not Quite

Well, the package from China wasn't our invitation to travel. It was a package from Cheng's family (for Christmas). Drats. We did receive our referral packet for FengHong from WACAP though, and two more letters of confirmation. We had already signed two letters of confirmation for BingHui, and now we have another letter of confirmation for BingHui, and one for FengHong. We don't ask questions anymore; we just sign the forms and send them back. Of course we also make a copy of everything we sign, just in case. We still think we'll receive our invitation to travel any day now. Actually, we're waiting for another I-800 approval for FengHong, and then we should (hopefully) receive our invitation to travel (and article 5 letter) a few weeks after that. According to the wait time we experienced with BingHui, we should receive our I-800 approval for FengHong at the end of next week. Three weeks after that, most people receive their article 5 letter from the consulate. If that is the case, we might be able to travel the beginning of January or early Feb. The middle of Feb. is Chinese New Year holiday, and all the government offices are closed. So, it's either early Feb. or March. We're just taking one day at a time.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Almost there!

We are in NYC this weekend to watch Austin run the Jesuit Championship race, but our adoption journey continues. Victor went to check on our house and said a big envelope arrived from WACAP. That would be our referral packet for FengHong. Then he told us another envelope arrived from Guangzhou. This COULD be it! This could be the travel notice! If it is the travel notice, then we can finally make arrangements to fly to China!! We are still in NYC for Austin's meet, and I can't wait to get home to open our mail. It's funny how mail has become important to me this year. I used to have David get the mail on his way home from work, but since completing our adoption application a year ago, I've run to the mailbox everyday, much like a young child might. I anxiously scan the letters, hoping against hope that there is something from WACAP or the Dept. of Homeland Security. Now, while we're out of town, it looks like we might have received important mailings. If it is our notice to travel for BingHui, we have to find out if we can proceed, or if we need to wait for a second notice to travel for FengHong. Speaking of FengHong, David and I have talked of nothing else lately but his name. We spent hours talking about how to, and if we should, change FengHong's name. We pour over baby name lists trying to come up with a name similar to FengHong that sounds kind of American. No success at this point. We are wondering if he has already taken an English name; sometimes the children take American names for their English class. We want to know how FengHong will feel about an American name. We grapple with this everyday, while we wait to travel.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Letter of confirmation

We received a call last night that WACAP has received our letter of confirmation for FengHong! WACAP will put together our referral packet now, and we can sign all the official paperwork. Then it will all get sent to US immigration so that they can issue the I800 approval for FengHong. What it boils down to is that we MIGHT get to travel in approximately 3 months. This is good news because we've been trying to get an idea of WHEN, and it's been vague ever since we decided to adopt FengHong too. It's been hard to plan our holidays, wondering if we might travel in December, and now we know that it is more likely to be Feb. or March. Moving forward, we are starting to tell people about FengHong. As expected, people think we're nuts for adopting two children. They are especially shocked that we would agree to adopt a teenager. Teens are tough under the best of circumstances, and we are taking a big risk adopting a 13 year old. Oh well. We can't live our lives trying to please other people. We need to do what we are called to do and just trust the Lord. We feel that FengHong belongs in our family and we will address the problems as they arise.

Monday, October 12, 2009

CCAA pre pre-approval

The Chinese Center for Adoption Affairs gave a verbal ok for us to adopt two children this trip, and we can begin the preapproval process to adopt FengHong!! I'm just waiting for the medical report (the ok) from the pediatrician. FengHong appears to be a healthy child, but it's best to have a Dr. read and interpret the lab results etc. We haven't told the kids yet that we are going to pursue adopting yet another child, but we have shown them the videos of FengHong jump roping. It looks amazing, really. After we receive the ok from the Dr., we'll break the news to them. Austin's only concern seems to be that our adoption might have an impact on his schooling. Austin loves McQuaid, and he wants to make certain that we can continue to afford his tuition. We'll cross that bridge when we get there. For now, we just want to bring our sons home safe and sound.

Sunday, October 11, 2009


We received the video of the boy, FengHong, who is 13 and going to "age out" in May. He's darling, and I am happy to say he IS quite athletic, which is a good fit for our family. On the video he jumps rope (all double jumps) and cross overs! We submitted the medical records and video to our adoption Dr., and we're waiting for her to look over everything. FengHong also needs a small corrective surgery, but we don't think that it will be a big problem. Once the Dr. gives the ok., then we have to ask the kids if they are willing to adopt two children, instead of one. We especially have to get Austin to be "on board." Austin tends to be negative, and we want to make certain he's going to be happy with the adoptions too. FengHong is only 6 months younger than Austin, and I'm hoping they will be great friends and brothers.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Lots to report

Ok--I got really bored reporting that we received this form, or that form, or whatever. Unless you know what an I-800A approval is (versus the I-800) and how a letter of confirmation works, it's all boring to read. But recently, we've had some interesting stuff happen. Dare I say drama? We had a conference call last week, with five other families who should be traveling soon. It was basically to warn us that our children might not even KNOW they are up for adoption, and they might not WANT to go with us etc. etc. We knew most of it already, although we were surprised to find out that some of the kids will be upset by a "western toilet" even. Some of the children have never left the orphanage, therefore, even Wal-Mart might be scary. Anyway, on this conference call, we chatted with a man (his wife wasn't available for the call) who has already adopted 8 Chinese children. The oldest is now 13, I think. He is going to China in November to adopt two more, ages 9 and 13. Well, I was shocked. We asked, very early in the adoption process, if we could adopt two children(unrelated) at the same time. We were told NO. Our homestudy approved us for two children, ages 2-13, but we were told by the agency that China did not allow dual adoptions. Now, during the conference call, I found out that it IS possible, and actually practical. After a dozen emails with the family who has already done this (8 times!! Adopting 9 and 10 this trip!) I decided to push a little. Our homestudy was approved for two children, as was our I-800A. So I pushed. Last year, I started looking at a boy who I thought would fit in well with our family. His name is FengHong. He has the most beautiful smile, and he's quite handsome. The agency describes him as athletic and "all boy," which will fit in great with our kids. I called WACAP and told them we wanted to adopt FengHong also. What a ruckus. They were not happy and quite discouraging. I was on the phone with several people from the adoption agency, and they all tried to talk me out of the idea. Then, I called the US Center for Immigration, and spoke with a person there. She said it was not a big deal on their part, since we have been approved for two children already. Why were we told last year that this wasn't feasible?? Hmmm. According to the family who is adopting two children in November, the agency doesn't like dual adoptions because they don't get their fee twice. If we adopt BingHui now, and then go back and adopt FengHong later, the agency makes twice as much money. So, now we are scrambling to do paperwork. Our pediatrician is reviewing medical records, we are hastily filling out forms, etc. etc. We are trying to do what we did in a year, for BingHui, in only a few months. We want to adopt FengHong on this same trip to China,which is supposed to be in a few months! I'm not even telling our children yet, just in case we are told no. In a few days, we'll receive a video of FengHong, and by then we might know if the CCAA will approve our dual adoption. If the Chinese government gives the ok, we'll then tell the kids that we are adopting two children now, not one. On a more positive note, as usual, it's the night before a school vacation, and we have six boys (ages 16-11) here overnight. Our 3, plus a couple of friends. They are playing pool, watching movies, and I've even relaxed my computer games rules (as long as it's Age of Empires--which is very educational). They are having a blast!! A houseful of boys is a ton of fun!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Letter of Confirmation

We received our official Letter of Confirmation from the Chinese government. Basically, it "matches" us with Fan, Bing Hui, and the letter requests that we accept the match. Sign here, if the Peters family wishes to proceed with the adoption. Of course, we selected BingHui in December of last year, but if we were adopting an infant, this would be the point when we would first get the information about the baby. I can't imagine how that must feel, getting a letter identifying your new child. We did things differently because we are adopting a waiting child who is 6 years old. However, the letter of confirmation is a big big step in the right direction. From here, we just need to fill out a few more forms, gather together our documents, come up with $7,000 CASH, and then Viola, time to travel. It could be as early as 3 months from now! Wow! I'm sure most adoptive parents don't think so, but we think the time passed quickly. Less than a year ago, we decided to adopt, and now it's almost complete! Time to get the room ready and send care packages to China to our new son!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Pre-approval granted

We received news today that our pre-approval was granted in China! That is excellent news because we were afraid they would reject our application because we haven't been married for five years yet. Our fifth anniversary is next week. Now, the Chinese government (the CCAA) will begin to actually look at our paperwork. It might be another 6 months until we travel to meet our son!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Lazy Days of summer---NOT

So, we're now settled into our summer routine. Swimming lessons, reading clinic, guitar, Chinese, horse-back riding, Tae Kwon Do etc. Connor's friend's mom called to see when the kids can get together, and I had to honestly tell her we are not free any day before 2:30p. Yikes! Of course, our schedule will settle down in Aug., but right now it's go, go, go. I'm very happy I postponed the start of Connor's Web Design class until the fall. On another note, Austin has been sending us emails from China (in Chinese). He is in China right now visiting Xiao, our former exchange student. By the time Austin arrives home, he should be conversant in Chinese!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

July 6th

Our dossier was logged in at CCAA on June 5th. We are officially on the waiting list. Sigh. In the meantime, the four foster children have been filling up our days (and nights too!) so the time goes fast. The once a week "babysitting" turned into the four children living with us full-time, for at least the next three months or so. Recently, I've been asked (a number of times) if we are going to adopt these four. They are not legally free and available for adoption, so it's not even a possibility. In fact, they won't be legally free probably for many many years. There are a number of relatives and parents involved, and IF (or by the time) the family is found unsuitable the children will be teenagers. This is why we are not adopting from the US. We subscribed to the CAP book (Children Awaiting Parents) and all the children available are quite a bit older. I called on 15-20 children listed, and they were not really available for adoption for one reason or another. So we turned to China. In China, parents rights are terminated in six months and the children are legally free for adoption. Yes, it does take time to go through the adoption process, and lots of money, but at least at the end we know for certain that we will have our new son. And, of course, we were not looking to adopt a group of four siblings.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

May 30 Dossier sent

Well, our dossier was finally sent to China. What does that mean exactly? It means we have to pay another invoice and we keep waiting. Although now we are "officially" waiting for the notice to travel. No reason to get excited, though. It will still be 6-9 months.

Monday, March 30, 2009

March 30, 2009

Well, our dossier is complete finally, and it's been sent to US Immigration. US Immigration usually takes 3 months to approve the dossier. In the meantime, we have to travel to our embassy in Buffalo to have yet another set of fingerprints taken. Yes, it's crazy. A criminal gets his fingerprints taken once, and they can forever check the database, but to adopt from China we have to have our fingerprints taken multiple times. It must be a money generator for someone, somewhere. Our prints are definitely on file (foster care, teacher, lawyer, and this whole adoption process), yet we have to be in Buffalo at 9am next Tuesday. Then we can wait another 3 months until the next step. Patience is a virtue, as is not trying to make sense of the process.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Feb. 10--cleared finally

Well, today we received notice that FINALLY my fingerprints were cleared through the FBI. That means that our homestudy is complete, and we are officially accepted into the China program. What it really means is that we start waiting for the US immigration paperwork to be ok'd. Then US immigration sends our paperwork to the Chinese government for their clearance. Yes, it means more waiting. In the meantime, our Chinese language classes are going well. Connor and I have mastered a dozen phrases and 40-50 words. Austin, Grandma Sue and cousin Eric have less time to study during the day, but they are greatly enjoying the classes. Connor and I have the advantage because we home-school and practice every day together. At least a few of us will be able to converse when we go to China next year!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

February--another month

It's another month and no news. No updates and nothing to report yet. I have been "babysitting" the four children (that I previously mentioned) at least once a week. Whew! They are adorable, but exhausting. I'm happy we decided to adopt a child who is school-aged. I'm not sure I'd want to do diapers and potty-training all over again. Of course, if I suddenly had a baby or toddler, I'd get used to it quickly; I'm just saying, I think adopting an older child was a great choice for us.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

paperwork, paperwork...will it end?

We wonder if the paperwork will ever end?? We have to sign and notarize yet another statement that we have never committed a crime in NY State. We have already had our fingerprints checked, have signed statements and references that we don't have a criminal record, and yet we have to sign and notarize another statement again clarifying that we do not have a criminal record. It seems so silly sometimes, doing everything over and over again. On another note, the Dept. of Social Services asked me if I would offer "support services" to a grandmother who suddenly has custody of her daughter's four children. DSS wants me to essentially babysit 4 children, ages 2, 3, 5 & 8, to give the grandma a break. Too bad the whole situation with the four kids stinks. I can't elaborate (privacy laws), but what a mess!! My heart hurts for the kids. At least watching these children will give me practice with younger kids, and it will keep me busy while we wait for BingHui.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Another year

Well, it's now 2009 and our resolution is to have BingHui here by the end of the year. It MIGHT be possible, if everything goes exactly as planned. We have our homestudy completed, except for the fingerprint clearance for me. Yep, once again my finger prints were rejected by Albany and sent back as not readable. It's such baloney. I am beginning to think that Albany automatically rejects a certain percentage of the fingerprint cards just to clear- off someone's desk. My fingerprints were rejected twice before (when printed for teaching certification, and when we got our clearance for foster care) so I made doubly certain that each and every print was as clear as a bell before we submitted the card for the FBI check. Oh well, it's just one more small thing. Now, David has to order a new birth certificate, and we are done with round two of the paperwork. David's birth certificate shows his birth name and not his present name; he changed his name to match his mother's name after his parents divorced. I know that immigration will have a field day with me--I've had 5 last names!!! No lie. I was born Richards, my mom remarried and they legally changed my name to Olmstead, and then I was married three times--Burkhart, Rohlfing and now Peters. Yikes! Nothing more for us to do right now, except wait.